Tropical Fish Site

Profiles Reviews Guides for Tropical and Marine

Jack Dempsey – Archocentrus Octofasciatum


Common Name: Jack Dempsey

Scientific Name: Archocentrus Octofasciatum

Average Adult Fish Size: 10 inches / 25 cm

Place of Origin: Wild Jack Dempsey cichlids can be found in North and Central America where they inhabit a region that stretches from the Papaloapán River in southern Mexico to the Hondurian Ulua River in Central America.

Typical Tank Setup: A mostly open aquarium with some rock work. Rocks should be placed so territories are spread out. 3 inches / 7.5 cm or more of  medium sand or gravel is required as they like to dig.

Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: 45 gallon / 180 litre for one, 75 gallon / 300 litre or larger for a full grown pair

Compatibility: Best if kept with other cichlids of the same size and temperament.

Temperature: 72 – 86 Deg.  F /  22 – 30 Deg. C

Water Chemistry: pH 7.0-8.0

Feeding: Flaked, frozen, and pelleted food when smaller, and larger pellets along with chunks of frozen food when larger. Will eat smaller fish, but this is not recommended as a consistent diet.

Sexing: Males are almost always more colorful and larger, but venting is the only sure way to determine gender with the Jack Dempsey.

Breeding: The Jack Dempsey cichlid will typically reach sexual maturity when it has grown to approximately 7-8 inches / 18-20 cm. If you want to spawn your Jack Dempsey cichlids, an increased temperature approaching 86 Deg f / 30 Deg C is recommended. Breeding Jack Dempsey cichlids should always be kept in their own tank, or in an aquarium divided by glass or net, since the parents are highly aggressive during the breeding period. They will often breed over a thoroughly cleaned and inspected flat rock such as slate, or within a medium-large clay flower pot turned on its’ side.

Additional Information: In a well kept tropical aquarium a Jack Dempsey can live for 8-10 years. One way of calming down a quarrelsome Jack Dempsey cichlid is to keep the water temperature down. The recommended temperature range for a Jack Dempsey cichlid is 72-86 Deg F / 22-30 Deg C, but many aquarists make sure that the temperature never goes above 78 Deg F / 25.5 Deg C since warm water can increase the aggressiveness in some Jack Dempsey cichlids. Regardless of temperature, the Jack Dempsey cichlid will always claim its own territory and defend their own part of the aquarium. Adequate filtration and frequent water changes are necessary to keep Jack Dempseys in breeding condition and prevent disease.